How To Overcome The Growing Visibility Problem On Social Media

For more than a decade now, social media marketing has been the golden child of marketers and entrepreneurs everywhere—or at least, it has in theory. When marketers began to realize they could use hyper-popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter to promote their own brands and content, businesses flocked to jump on the trend. Some claimed it was their most profitable marketing initiative, while others criticized it as a temporary fad. If you put in the time and effort, it was easy to see a positive ROI, especially if you used it in conjunction with a strong content marketing campaign.

However, things have changed quite a bit in the past several years, and it’s becoming more difficult to see the same level of returns.

The Visibility Problem

What is it that’s putting a damper on social media ROI lately? A handful of developments are converging to make it more difficult for brands to earn visibility on social media platforms. Facebook is a major influencer here; for the past several years, the social media giant has slowly been refining its newsfeed algorithm to show users less organic branded content (i.e., content posted by business pages that doesn’t qualify as paid advertising). Recently, it pushed a big update to favor posts by individuals over those by brands and corporations.

Other popular platforms have already made it difficult for brands to get as much visibility as individuals. For example, LinkedIn naturally favors individual accounts in features like Groups, which is one of the strongest sections for visibility on the platform, and Snapchat’s functionality makes it appealing to groups of friends rather than individuals seeking branded or informative content.

To complicate matters even further, there’s been a marked increase in the number of businesses pursuing content and social media marketing as a strategy, due to rising awareness of the potential returns here. that means more people are competing for a shrinking amount of space, and everyone’s scrambling to get the same level of visibility they had before.

So how can you overcome this visibility problem and continue (or start) seeing a return on your social media marketing investment.

Seek Quality Over Quantity

Your first goal should be to stop worrying about quantity and pour your efforts into writing singularly powerful posts. The rapid-fire approach to publication and syndication isn’t going to fly now that Facebook’s algorithm filters out the majority of branded posts. If you want any hope of achieving widespread visibility, you need occasional, standout pieces that generate attention on their own; reactions, comments, and shares will all support your visibility, so make sure your posts are worthy of earning that level of engagement. You need to stand out above the competition if you’re going to survive.

Selectively Target Your Users

You can also make yourself stand out more and achieve more relevance by specifically and selectively targeting your users. Aim for more specific demographics than you might be used to, and write content that’s tailored specifically for them. Yes, you’ll be restricting your total audience volume, but you’ll make up for it with relevance and specificity. Using audience controls on Facebook, you’ll be able to work around some of the platform’s organic limitations and deliver your content to the people most likely to enjoy it. Not only that, but because you’ll have a higher relevance to them, you’ll also earn a boost in reactions, comments, and shares.

Focus on Earning Shares

Though not the case with every platform, generally an article has a better chance of getting seen if it’s posted or shared by an individual user than if it’s merely posted through a branded account. Do the math here; that means if you’re able to get even a handful of shares from your original post, you’ll instantly have greater organic visibility than you would by following your normal protocol for syndication. You should have been attempting to earn more social shares to begin with, but now it’s more important than ever. Consider giving yourself a jumpstart by getting shares from personal brands within your company, or from influencers with whom you hold a connection; other than that, try to provide shocking, funny, or highly practical original content to maximize your share counts.

 Hedge Your Bets

Last but not least, it’s wise to consider the fact that organic social media syndication and distribution just isn’t as valuable as it used to be. That doesn’t mean you should stop pursuing it, as it can still yield a positive ROI, but it does encourage you to hedge your bets. Make sure you distribute your content on multiple platforms, including channels outside the normal scope of social media to earn more visibility. You may also enlist the help of alternative strategies, like influencer marketing or even paid advertising, to help supplement your overall return. For more ideas on how to distribute your content, see Content Unleashed: The Ultimate Guide to Promoting Your Published Content.

Looking to the Future

It’s unlikely that the visibility problem will go away; in fact, it’s bound to get worse before it gets better, as platforms like Facebook continue favoring individuals and soft-forcing businesses to pay for advertising to get visibility on their platforms. Fortunately, I anticipate the strategies I’ve outlined above to remain relevant for the foreseeable future as general best practices for organic visibility success. You may have to experiment with them, or invest more heavily in some over others, but ultimately, you’ll find yourself on a steady course by following them.


Article written by Jayson DeMers of Forbes. Follow him on twitter @jaysondemers.